Can you really enjoy alcohol-free wine?
Published 10/08/2011 | 05:00
Helen Turbitt recommends trying de-alcoholised wine if you want to cut down or give up the drink. The question is: can you find anything that's remotely palatable?
After all, alcohol, produced naturally from the fermentation of grape sugars, gives texture and body to wine. Strip that back, unnaturally, to almost zero and you are interfering with its magical alchemy.
De-alcoholised wine has been fermented in the normal way, following which one of a number of methods is used to reduce the alcohol to 0.5pc, compared with the more usual 12-13pc, or up to 15pc in some blockbusters.
First up was the Carl Jung Medium-Dry Sparkling Wine, de-alcoholised. I wasn't expecting too much from the cheap German (widely available at €6.49), but pleasant surprise began with the lively mousse that flowed when the bottle was opened.
The bubbles were fine and persistent, and, combined with a crisp apple fruitiness, it was a refreshing palate tickler. It may have lacked the biscuity complexity of an expensive Champagne, but a worthy choice for many a celebratory pop.
The famous Torres wine-making family produce Natureo Free, a 0.5pc still white wine from the Muscat grape, widely available at about €6.99.
The nose had all the exotic muskiness associated with Muscat and the palate was fresh and zippy. Not a lot of body, but it had an imprint of alcohol that put it on another level from grape juice, and could easily take its place as a cheap and cheerful white that you might keep in the door of the fridge.
Later that evening, I put them to the ultimate test with a friend and we sipped happily for hours.
Here's the point: I drove home and she sent me a text asking for their names. Oh, and did I mention that they contain far fewer calories than the regular bottle.